Electronic or Key Door Locks

11 Replies

I'm starting to add to my rental portfolio and looking to see if I should switch to electronic door locks or traditional key & lock...... I'm fearful that the electronic door locks might cause more glitches and issues down the road.

@Chris Lawrence what type of properties are you renting out? I personally am a big fan of land lord locks, and I have used them on all of my buildings here in the Berwyn/Lyons area. You buy them online at the website, and they are all master keyed (which is awesome!). You can also change lock cylinders with a special control key, which will reduce the cost of changing locks over the long haul. My apartments are rented out to the upper end of the working class for the most part, so I wouldn't use electronic locks. 

@Chris Lawrence

It really depends on how much you want to spend. I would take a serious look at "removable core" lock system or others call it "landlord locks". This allows for a "great grand master key" system. This allows you to have a master key that will work at every place you have a lock. This system can also be integrated into electronic locks or electric strikes as well. I would talk with a door hardware consultant, a door hardware supplier or a locksmith. Its a pricey upfront cost but time and effort saved on the back end. You wont find your answers at a big box store. Lots of options here but you need to consult a professional.

If you want something simple, look at Kwik Set locks, they have electronic locks but this is individually.  Some you can program several codes, one for the tenant and one for the landlord.  As long as the batteries work you are good and don't need a key.  This will require individual key management.   You may find some of these on sale at a big box store on Black Friday.


Updated about 2 years ago

I still issue keys with electronic locks. Whatever system you choose, you will have to manage keys.

Stick to original key locks - It's easier for the tenant to control access as the "code" in a electronic lock will not be just passed around. And it's easier for them to malfunction and having to be changed more frequently.

@Chris Lawrence the land lord lock system has been one of the best "systems" I have invested in. The most exciting day for me when I take over a new building is throwing away the bag of old keys from previous land lords. I am managing 52 units in the Berwyn/Lyons area on this system, and I also have a separate master key setup through them for a 20 unit apartment complex in South Bend, Indiana. 

One other tip that I gleaned here on bigger pockets was to delete locking door handles and replace them with the dummy handles like you would use on a hall closet (no lock). This prevents lock outs, and it also reduces your up front cost to re-key a place. I have never had any tenant complain, and I always explain that the bolt lock is the only lock that is providing any real security. 

I would really think about your goals with something like this. If you are planning to have multiple properties, then the electronic locks could turn into a real headache. 

For my personal home electronic locks all day long. For any rentals, dumb locks. As has been said, a tenant can change to code to an electric lock, and then all of the sudden, you’re locked out...

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you